3 is Gilchrist's third album and his first trio release. He composed, arranged and throws every throbbing note down in the company of his Baltimore homeboys "Blue" Jenkins on bass and Nate Reynolds on drums. "The sound I was hearing in my head is coming from when I first heard Money Jungle," Gilchrist explains. "It's a trio record with Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach. To me, it sounds like an orchestra being played by a trio. I was inspired to make something that sounded big and grandiose just like that."
Mission accomplished: Gilchrist and crew, especially drummer Reynolds, who once pounded beats for soul legend "Wicked" Wilson Pickett, rock this music hard. Jenkins and Reynolds often play so strong and fast in counterpoint to Gilchrist's forceful attack that their rhythms become runaway locomotives and it's often a marvel that the pianist can keep pace. Amazingly, Gilchrist does, and resurrects process structuralist ghosts like Art Tatum and Cecil Taylor (in "Volcano Red") and even Thelonious Monk ("The Equizinator's Request").
Gilchrist cryptically yet insightfully annotates each song title, so his description of "In Depth" can be read as "The pride of James Brown and the depth of inquiry of Andrew Hill," and of "Volcano Red" as "It's the way I like my band to play, like a pot boiling over."
Gilchrist's rhythm section adds so much power and counterpoint to his playing that 3 often sounds like no other piano trio record. In the spry "Inside Outside," Gilchrist seems barely tethered to the rhythm section, and he gnaws on the introductory flurries of "Visitors" like a starving dog until the rhythm pumps up in volume and tempo, whipping his hands faster and faster.
"The Equizinator's Request" majestically rocks and just keeps rolling, careening and plummeting as if trapped in rapids, full of an exciting sense of the unexpected, and of rollicking and funky fun.
Personnel: Lafayette Gilchrist: piano; Anthony "Blue" Jenkins: bass; Nate Reynolds: drums.